OK, after battling a harddrive failure over the weekend, I was able to boot my computer with a Ubuntu liveCD and get access to the hard drive and rescue all my files. Not sure how I was getting a no boot device available error and a code 2000-0142 that states the harddrive is dead but Ubuntu was able to see it and copy from it. I tried to restore from my Windows recovery CD that came with the machine but it kept give me some error about not being the right version and to find a CD with the right one. That lead me to many attempts at a work around to no avail.
In any case, I didn't have a backup (shame on me, I know) but now have a new external drive to use in the future. I plan to see if I can reinstall windows rather than repair it and test the old hard drive. I suspect it't not failing because the issue happened on a restart after I uninstalled some Apple itunes components. Coincidence that my computer with not a single problem would fail suddenly on a restart and an uninstall or just random?
Anyway.... I managed to rescue all my files. Do I need to set the computer up all over again or can I copy some of the user settings from the old drive files I rescued? For example, do I need to reset all my Thunderbird settings or can I overright a folder on the new setup with a setting folder I rescued? Or can I copy settings from Office and save having to recreate all new templates?
Just looking for any shortcuts to the lengthy PITA a new setup is... from dealing with the bloatware to reinstalling all programs (which I know I haee to do).